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Joy & Connection

Wondering what to do with all of those beautiful farmers market greens from bok choy to tatsoi, Mizuna, and even lettuces and spinach?


I pulled into my family’s driveway on a moonless night in February of 1996. I had just finished college halfway through the year and while I returned to march at graduation that May, I was now home with no plans and suddenly not surrounded by 1500 of my best friends. Like most recent graduates, travel, shopping and dinners out were out of my reach.


A few months earlier I had attended a dinner party at the home of a couple I met during my summer on the coast of Maine. I arrived early to hang out and have a drink. Standing in the kitchen I watched them prepare a dish, an impossibly cool pasta sauce of then trend-setting Portabella mushrooms, artichoke hearts and capers. Leaving that evening I realized I had memorized the dish.


So, lonely at home and with a little too much free time, I made this sauce for my parents. That night after setting the table, lighting candles and cooking, I felt empowered. I might not be able to travel or go out to dinner or concerts, but I could create this magic, this joy.


This joy is half of what occupied my mind over 20 years later in 2019 when I began creating my television show. I have always believed that life can and should be lived with joy, every single day. I had found the power to bring that into my life through cooking and wanted to share it.


There was another reason I cooked. Through it I found the other most important thing in my life: connection. I connected with the people in my kitchen. I connected with people around my table. I also connected with farmers and producers, the people who created the beautiful foods I cook with.

Get to know your farmers.and may your food be part of experiencing daily joy and living a deeply connected life...

While preparing for the show launch in May of 2021, I did some media training. We spoke a lot about joy and connection. Having just been through more than a year of relative isolation due to COVID the coach I was working with asked me, “what would you say to all of the people who have spent the last year eating alone?”


I didn’t even have to think for a moment. “I never eat alone,” I replied. I can put names to the food on my table: Emily’s apples from Black Rock orchard, Ali and Dan’s lettuces and radishes from Shenandoah Seasonal, Meats from Lauren and Shane at Liberty Delight Farms.


Knowing our farmers is more than just knowing where your food comes from, although that is a great reason to do it. When you build a relationship with the people who fill your refrigerator you also build a symbiotic trust in the quality of that food.


But the most important reason I get to know my farmers is connection. Because the time I spend in the kitchen and the food I serve on my table are richer for being deeply connected to people in the same way that serving food on family dishes or cooking a recipe from a dear relative or friend transcends the simple sustenance of a meal. So, get to know your farmers.and may your food be part of experiencing daily joy and living a deeply connected life.


Chinese - Style Sizzling Greens


Serves 4


Wondering what to do with all of those beautiful farmers market greens from bok choy to tatsoi, Mizuna, and even lettuces and spinach? This simple preparation leaves them fresh with bright flavor and is so simple and quick. They are available all winter long at your farmers market delivering just the flavors you need amidst time-consuming roasts and braises.


  • 1/2 lb greens like tatsoi or bok choy, leaves separated

  • 1/2” ginger thinly slivered

  • 2 tbs seeded and thinly slivered jalapeño

  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced

  • 2 tbs peanut or vegetable oil

  • 1 tbs soy sauce

  • Cider vinegar

  • White pepper



Directions:

  1. Bring a 6 qt pot of water to a boil. Season heavily with 2-3 tbs salt. Add greens and blanch until just tender, 30 sec to 1 min. Remove, drain and reserve.

  2. Warm oil in a small skillet over med. heat. Add ginger, jalapeño and garlic. Remove from heat. Let cook 30 sec and spoon over greens.

To serve drizzle greens with soy sauce, a splash of cider vinegar, and a crack or two of white pepper.

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